Comic-Con is just around the corner, meaning Hollywood’s glitterati will soon be schlepping down to San Diego to rub elbows (albeit from a safe distance) with 125,000 enthusiastic fans and rabid consumers of pop culture.
Some of those attending to promote upcoming movies and TV shows possess genuine comic book or sci-fi bona fides and a familiarity with such material. They know how to speak to this audience, which tends to be star-struck but has also been disappointed often enough by Hollywood’s handling of beloved characters (see just about anything produced before Tim Burton’s 1989 “Batman”) to be wary of those who arrive via limo.
Other stars, directors and executives have to fake it — and can easily step on verbal land mines if they’re not careful. Studios have wised up and begun employing specialists who are well-versed in navigating this space, but many day-to-day publicists — by nature an attractive, socially adept group lacking geek-speak fluency — are ill-equipped to adequately prepare clients for these sessions.
So as a service to both sides in this somewhat dysfunctional relationship (think of me as Dr. Phil, with more hair and less money), consider this list of do’s and don’ts for those hoping to make a good impression — free advice as they participate in a mercenary form of speed dating — the goal being effective small talk to an auditorium crowd of 6,000-plus.
Panelists are welcome to clip and save the following guide of what and what not to say to win over — or at minimum temporarily mollify — the Comic-Con faithful, bestowing instant legitimacy (or avoiding missteps) with these simple phrases.
“If the fans are satisfied, then I’ll feel like we’ve done our job and accomplished our mission.”
“Have I mentioned how much I love ‘Watchmen?'”
“I know I look like a handsome actor who was getting laid right and left in high school and college, but in truth, I just sat in my darkened room reading comic books. Hell, I can’t wait to hit the dealers’ room and load up on back issues.”
“Hmmm, what person, living or dead, would I most like to have dinner with? I’d have to say Stan Lee.”
“Like everyone here, I remember where I was when Gwen Stacy died in ‘Spider-Man No. 121.’ ”
“Just to get the crew revved up in the morning, every day during shooting I greeted them by screaming, ‘Spartans! Tonight, we dine in Hell!’ ”
“I don’t think there’s anything cooler than an adult owning an authentic Stormtrooper costume.”
“Let me say I completely support the estates of artist Jack Kirby and Superman creators Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster in their respective artists’ rights legal battles with Marvel and Warner Bros.”
“The New York Times? Actually, I get most of my information from the websites Ain’t-it-cool-news and Whedonesque. And did I mention Joss Whedon is a friggin’ genius?”
“Of course I can name all five ‘Star Trek’ captains in sequence. Can’t everybody?”
“Geez, how much time and money did you waste on that costume? And whew-ee, did they outlaw deodorant where you live?”
“The movie’s really good. If you ever get a date, you should take him or her to see it. Sorry, on second thought, just take a friend.”
“My favorite ‘Star Wars’ character? That’s easy: Jar-Jar Binks. Hilarious!”
“Honestly, I don’t really care about nitpicking crap like whether there’s supposed to be noise in outer space, dude.”
“Seriously, this is the biggest collection of freaks I’ve ever seen in my life. Nobody even remotely prepared me for this. But, you know, please watch our show in September.”
“I’m sure we can all agree the Superman movies peaked with ‘Superman III,’ co-starring Richard Pryor.”
“We think we’ve captured the essence of the character, but without the stupid spandex costume and all that idiotic comic book stuff.”
“Frank Miller? Who the hell is that?”
“We’re really hoping our series is a lot like ‘Heroes’ in its later seasons.”
“Having seen an advance screening of the movie, I think they made a huge mistake killing off the hero. Oh, excuse me, ‘spoiler alert.’ “